Saturday, July 30, 2005

The First Tomato. Worth Its Salt?

The first tomato must be eaten as plain as possible to just savor the long-awaited flavor of its ripeness. Here is my Kellogg's Breakfast opened up for my and your pleasure. Can you see its juiciness? No, not really. The picture is really not doing it justice. ...and I'm not just talking my delirium over the first one. It really was all glistening with juiciness even though this is a particularly meaty tomato with a minimum of seeds and pockets of "jelly".

So, what is a tomato without salt? For this ritual first taste I whipped out my very finest tomato salt — Contemporary Ocean Products' Smoked Sea Salt Flakes. We have discussed salt before on the Chocolate & Zucchini foodblog. This smoked salt is my very favorite and is just perfect for a simple slice of tomato. Perhaps you can see the interesting pyramidal shape of the crystals in the photo below. This salt has just enough smokey flavor and delicate crunch to announce itself and enhance the flavor without distracting from it.

In that same C&Z conversation, someone brought another purveyor of specialty salts to my attention. It was Salt Traders and they also have a smoked salt. They call theirs Danish Viking-Smoked Sea Salt (here it appears on the right). So I had to order some and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to compare them. The Salt Traders' salt is far more compact in its cube-shaped crystal. And its flavor is far more intense as well. You can really taste the fire in this one! Honestly, if you were blindfolded and couldn't see the color or didn't know the name, the first thing you'd think is "smoke". It's at least as smokey as it is salty. I think that would make it a good choice for salmon or another strong-flavored fish. In the winter when barbeques are a mere memory this salt might be a welcome reminder of them on beef or pork.

There's a third salt in the photo. That's the Salt Traders Australian Murray River Salt Flakes. Unfortunately, I didn't think to pull this out and test it on a third slice of tomato. I wish they were easier to see against that white background but perhaps you'll see that, although they're not as large, they share the flake configuation of the Contemporary Ocean Products' salt. I think this is much more delicate in the mouth than the Danish salt. And the Murray River has a pleasant, assertive, salty flavor but, of course, without the smokey quality. I like this salt and think it's perfect for fresh veggies and salad.

Verdict? The Contemporary Ocean Products salt is the clear choice for a fresh tomato. It adds just enough additional flavor to complement the acids and sugars of the fruit with a pleasant tactile sensation from the large but delicate flake. The Australian salt is my second pick for its clean but assertive saltiness. I'll save the Danish salt for other uses.


Blogger Samantha said...

Where did you find that Contemporary Ocean Product's smoked salt? I'm thinking around me, Dean and Deluca might be a possibility. I've been shopping around for a good brand. :)

8:53 AM  

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